Following a very successful Christmas Late Night Shopping in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, it was decided to repeat this for Easter on Maundy Thursday, when all the local shops stayed open until 8pm.
The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership occupy the Old Booking Hall at Haltwhistle for their education offices and these were open as part of the late night activities.
Various local craftsmen and businesses who were just starting out were invited to use the space to set up a stall to promote their activities.
Seven new or small businesses set up a stall. Four of the businesses which came at Christmas returned to show their products.
Beeswax Products are based at Bardon Mill. As well as selling honey and beeswax they also adopted an ethical approach and were trying to cut down on the use of plastic. One of the unusual items on display was a sandwich box. Made from cotton and 100% beeswax from the local bees these were washable and reusable. Some amazing bee facts... It takes approximately 770 honeybees their entire lifetime to produce a pound of honey and they will have visited 2 million flowers and flown 55,000 miles. A fact to be remembered when next we spot a shelf of honey in the supermarket!!
The Elephant in the Room came from Bellingham. This was a very colourful craft stall, everything home made with lots of ideas for unusual gifts. The items on display were random stitch craft, knitted and stitch craft gifts and home accessories. The gift wrapped home-made dog biscuits proved to be a winner this year.
Pennine Gate Lotions and Creams are based at Halton le Gate. The owner is a former chemist and all the products were hand made using natural ingredients. It has now become a real kitchen industry. Sharing their stall was Let's Get Together, who use the old Booking Office weekly for Meditation drop ins, and also use the room for skills sharing days, when people come and show others how to do things. One planned theme is wool dying given by the TVCRP secretary, Julie Gibbon.
Stonehaugh Woodcraft were also very busy. The owners do wood turning in their spare time and produced a lot of nice products for this event. The hedgehogs proved to be the most popular item on the stall. The stall holders enjoyed the event, “Everyone was warm and friendly and the evening was well supported by the townspeople”.
Three new businesses also set up stalls. New to crafting is a brand new business, without a name at present based at Haltwhisle. Most evenings are spent producing original crocheted gifts and toys. When they signed up for the event they expected to be on a stall in the Main Street, open to the weather, but finding a home in the Booking Office was ideal.
Melting Aromas from Haltwhistle began last September. Working from home to produce their products, they use the craft fairs to get known and to market their products.
Sarah's Pretty Crafts is also based in Haltwhistle. Everything on the stall is home made. “It's been a hobby for years”.
Fiona Forsythe, TVCRP Officer, said “It was a great evening. We are pleased to be able support seven small local businesses, as well as talk to local people about our plans to renovate other buildings at the station”.
The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership volunteers were kept very busy supplying tea and coffee to the stall holders and customers. The Partnership was very pleased to host this event which allowed seven small local rural businesses to showcase their work. The evening was very well supported and brought the Partnership to the attention of the local people. There was a warm buzz about the evening and several people were asking questions about the work of the Partnership and the plans to convert some of the disused offices on the platforms into craft workshops. Everyone seems very happy with this event which it is hoped will be repeated in future years.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership is a not for profit limited company.
The day began at the MetroCentre Station where a Wall Display to promote the line was unveiled. The Metro Centre is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK and has its own railway station on the Tyne Valley line. The Wall Display filled a blank wall on the bridge linking the Centre with the railway station and coach park.Space on the wall at the Metro Centre was arranged by Dr. Gareth Evans, Intu'sTransport Manager, who is also a member of the Board of the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP).
The display was the work of our Marketing Director, Anne Ridley and designer Rachel Griffiths of Image Rail a company based locally on the Tyne Valley line at Naworth. The display shows the route of the line from Newcastle to Carlisle and the attractions in the various town and villages en-route.
Guests were entertained by Herbert one of the Metrognomes who kept everyone amused with his antics and hugs. He greeted everyone from the trains and greatly added to the occasion.
The ribbon was cut by Gareth Evans from Intu Metro Centre. “It is great to work with a partnership to help promote the Tyne Valley Line. The display brightens up an area on the Intu Metro Centre bridge link. We are looking forward to the additional rail services to Carlisle and Hexham beginning in May”.
Kul Bassi Community Rail Team Leader, from the DfT was “Delighted to be at the heart of the TVCRP and to hear how they bring life into the new Community Rail Strategy. I am highly impressed with the volunteers delivering a work plan”.
In the afternoon the guests took the train to Haltwhistle which is the Education Centre for the TVCRP. Here they inspected the work of Lanercost Primary School who recently visited the Centre to learn about safety on the railway.
There was also an opportunity to inspect the newly created Roman Wall, which is in the process of being made. This is a prop which is to be taken to Community Rail in the City which is to be held in Glasgow Central Station on 15th May. The aim is to encourage the Glasgow commuters to visit the attractions of the Tyne Valley and the nearby Roman Wall, arriving by train of course!!
Alex Bray, Stakeholder Liaison Manager with Cross Country summed the day, “It is fantastic to see some of the innovative partnerships coming together such as the Into Metro Centre and the TVCRP. Lots of people are passing through and getting a flavour of the line. It was nice to see the Roman Wall making its way to Glasgow!”.
February saw the cascade of un-refurbished stock arriving in the Tyne Valley line in the form of 156's and 158's from Manchester or Scot Rail. These are very comfortable but in need of some tlc.
Tuesday 6th March was “Northern Digital Trains Stakeholder Day – North East”. In the morning Northern held a conference for key stakeholders which included business updates from Anna Weeks, Interim Regional Director North East, and Kerry Cross, Head of Trains and Stations North East, and presentations from the Digital Trains Project Team.
The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) Officer, Fiona Forsythe, was invited to present a paper on the achievements of the TVCRP. The meeting was highly technical but as a reward to the Stakeholders, Northern gave a lunch for them and the offer of a journey on a newly refurbished 158. The Stakeholders from the TVCRP were invited to board the 13.20 train to Morpeth, which was number 158849 which looked very splendid in its refurbished colours. This train began service at Carlisle and travelled along the Tyne Valley to Newcastle before continuing along the main line calling at all stations to Morpeth.
We have recently taken delivery of our new "Explore the North" leaflet, promoting travel on the Tyne Valley Railway". They are now available in display racks across the North. Have you seen one? If so, it would be lovely if you could take a photo and post it on our facebook page @TVCRP.
We are delighted to be working with Tyne and Wear Heritage Forum to offer three train and guided walks as a fringe to the main conferenence.
Taking place on Friday 22nd March, the day before TWHF's conference, these train and guided walks explore 'heritage trails' in three communities in the Tyne Valley.